Russia’s Alena Kostornaia stormed to her second Grand Prix gold medal at the NHK Trophy in Sapporo (JPN) on Saturday. Rika Kihira of Japan claimed the silver medal and Olympic Champion Alina Zagitova of Russia moved up one place to take the bronze. All three qualified for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Torino next month.
Gold medalist Alena Kostornaia admitted she made mistakes in her Free Skating and is targeting a clean skate in the GP finals © International Skating Union
Performing to 'Twilight' and 'Supermassive Black Hole', Kostornaia nailed a triple Axel-double toeloop combination, triple flip-triple toeloop, a triple flip-Euler-triple Salchow as well as two more triples. However, she under-rotated and stepped out of her second triple Axel. The ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champion collected all level fours for her spins and footwork and scored 154.96 points to total 240.00 points overall.
“I am very happy to have done a good program. There were mistakes, but overall it was still good,” the 16-year-old commented.
“I’m pleased to have achieved a record score in the short program and I would like to set records also in the free skating and total score, but so far this is just a dream. For the Grand Prix Final, my goal is as always to skate clean and to improve my technical score and my second mark,” she explained.
Kihira delivered an excellent performance of her program entitled ‘International Angel of Peace’, reeling off an excellent triple Axel-double toeloop combination, another triple Axel and four more triple jumps. The only glitch was an under-rotated triple toeloop in a combination with a triple flip. The spins merited a level four and the 2018-19 ISU Grand Prix Final Champion achieved a season’s best of 151.95 points to accumulate 231.84 points overall and take her second Grand Prix silver medal of the season.
Rika Kihira (JPN) perfoms to ‘International Angel of Peace’ ©International Skating Union (ISU)
“For the short and free program I was able to concentrate almost fully and I was able to give a close to perfect performance, so I'm happy about that,” the 2019 Four Continents Champion noted.
“In the short and free program I was able to do something that was close to my personal best, but there were small mistakes. It was a tough competition and I believe that for the Grand Prix Final it's going to be even tougher.
"I want to look into my quad (Salchow) and I want to add jumps that can gain higher scores,” the 17-year-old added.
Zagitova took the role of Cleopatra in her Free Skating to music from ‘The Feeling Begins’ and ‘Lawrence of Arabia' and rallied back from her faulty Short Program. The 2019 World Champion produced a triple Lutz-triple loop combination and four more triple jumps as well as two level-four spins, but she under-rotated a triple flip. The 17-year-old posted a season’s best with 151.15 points and moved up one spot with 217.99 points overall.
Alina Zagitova (RUS) Skating to music from ‘The Feeling Begins’ and ‘Lawrence of Arabia' ©International Skating Union (ISU)
“After the short program I was upset of course, but I pulled myself together for the free skating thanks to my coaches that found the right words. In the program, I was just thinking from one element to the next what I need to do,” Zagitova said.
Yuhana Yokoi (JPN) pulled up from eighth to fourth with a strong performance (189.54 points). Mako Yamashita (JPN) placed fifth on 189.25 points and 2019 European Champion Sofia Samodurova (RUS) came sixth (183.27 points). Karen Chen (USA) dropped from third to ninth after making some errors (165.70 points).
ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Standings Ladies.
Overall, 58 skaters/couples representing 11 ISU members compete at NHK Trophy November 22-24. The top 6 qualifiers of the Grand Prix series in each discipline will proceed to the Final in Turin (ITA), December 5 to 8, 2019. Full entry lists, results, the General Announcement of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series are available on isu.org.
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ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2019/20